A document was thrown at us at work this week briefly looking at some of the changes we had been making over the last year or so. It made the point that although everyone had adopted the changes on the outside by doing what was required, there were some people who hadn’t changed their thinking on the inside. They were just obeying the “letter of the law”. They were doing it because they had been told to, and probably if left alone long enough and not nagged, they would revert to their old ways of doing things! For other people, the change had happened on the inside and they could see why the changes happened and they could understand all the benefits and they were exploring what else they thought needed to change that hadn’t been suggested as yet!
Let’s guess where along the line I stand, shall we? In terms of my job, I am somewhere along the “seeing why it’s necessary” bit and standing on the brink of “exploring what else needs to change”.
Based on what I said at a recent mid-week church meeting it would seem that I am not even willing to consider just “doing it”.
The change is about the times of morning meetings. The suggestion was to begin meeting in the afternoons or evenings as opposed to mornings. There are a number of issues that have highlighted the need to at least consider the change of time. The conditions under which we rent the venue are perhaps changing, the people that we are meeting through the various ministries we are involved in would be better served with an afternoon meeting. There aren’t any other churches like ours that meet at any other time than in the morning.
There are very few things that I say that I would label as purely immature but my comment, “I will just change churches,” was one of my truly selfish moments! Every church in my thirty something Christian life has always met in the morning, apart from the occasional few months where they trialed an evening meeting. There is just something for me about mornings.
I don’t think there are any theological reasons that I can come up with to support my morning meeting insistence! I know that it was early on a Sunday morning that Mary went to the tomb and witnessed the resurrected Jesus. I would be in a poor state if it was only on a Sunday morning that I witnessed a resurrected Jesus. He is there every day at any time for me to meet and fellowship with.
Even as I was making my stand the words of a song I had been listening to earlier that evening ran through my head. “I surrender all I am. To the Saviour who surrendered all for me.”
I think there are so many ways that our church has changed over the last couple of years. We are just not like many other churches. Not in our size, not in our outlook, not in our vision. I mean al of this is a good way. Being small we are close to one another, we cannot hide in the background or get lost in the crowd. In our outlook we are not inward looking. We don’t need to be repaired and put back together. In our vision we are stepping out of the church walls to heal people on the streets, to get involved in street pastors helping people in a variety of ways. We are a very unique set of people! God uses us – not that he doesn’t use any other church.
To get to where we are has required a lot of disassembling of my long held ideas of what church is about. That word “surrender” keeps cropping up in my life. God keeps on asking me, as he does every other child, to surrender – surrender and hand over what I think matters and allow him to show me what really does matter. It is not an easy thing sometimes to surrender! I don't often go down without a fight - even with God.
Church isn’t there soley for my comfort and my edification. It is there to reach out to the world. It is there for the people who need to be shown the love of God in a rainbow of ways.